Holiday Encore: “Christmas: the Ethical Holiday”

darth-vader-christmas

I googled “Christmas ethics” yesterday, and guess what came up first. This Ethics Alarms post, from December 25, 2010.

I fix a couple of things, but it is basically the same. If I were writing it anew, I might not use the loaded term “war on Christmas,” which those who are trying to shove Christmas out of the national culture indignantly deny. It isn’t a war, exactly, just a relentless, narrow-minded and destructive effort to take something that has been enduring, healthy, unifying and good, and re-define it as archaic, offensive, divisive, and wrong. Call it the suffocation of Christmas, or perhaps the assassination of Christmas. Whatever one calls it, the process has progressed since 2010.

We’ve discussed on various comment threads quite a bit about how Christmas music has almost vanished from radio. It has also been effectively banned from public schools, who are terrified of law suits in era when parents might sue over their child being warped by learning “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” “Here Comes Santa Claus!”, another one of Gene Autry’s liveliest Christmas hits, one he wrote himself(unlike “Rudolph”), has been declared musica non grata everywhere but on nostalgia satellite radio. It is such an up-beat song; Bing Crosby sings it with the Andrews Sisters on his iconic “Merry Christmas!” album. Why is it unwelcome today? It is unwelcome because the lyrics say we are “all God’s children,” and ends with “Let’s give thanks for the Lord above.” Can’t have that.

The ascendant attitude toward Christmas is both anti-religious and non-ethical. In my neighborhood, there are far more Star Wars Christmas figures, including Yule Darth Vader ( though thankfully not the 18-ft. Hammacher-Schlemmer version pictured above) and Christmas Storm Troopers, than any suggestion of peace, good will or love. Even these non-sectarian displays are too much for the Diversity Fascists, like this guy:

diversity-tweet

Such people believe that a healthy national culture embracing love, charity, generosity and kindness is disrespectful, and their society-rotting ideology is as much of a threat to our nation as terrorism. I don’t know how to reverse the damage already inflicted on our society, but I do know that we have to try. Reinvigorating Christmas and the ethical values it stands for would be a good start.

Merry Christmas, everyone—and I do mean everyone.

Finally, here’s the post..

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A Catastrophic Existential Failure Of Ethics And Institutions

Now what, Ben?

Now what, Ben?

I woke up this morning nauseous, after a restless night. It could have been dinner, but I’m pretty sure that it was Indiana.

Not that seeing Ted Cruz suspend his quest to be President was upsetting in and of itself. He’s a terrible candidate and a dangerous man, and almost certainly unelectable, which in his case is a good thing. As it did with Chris Christie, who was exposed as a character-free fraud; as it did with Jeb Bush, who demonstrated an inability to think; as it did with Ben Carson, who proved why his theory that leaders need no relevant experience at all was nonsense; as it did with Marco Rubio, who provided the definitive definition of “empty suit,” the primary system worked, and eliminated aspiring nominees who were unqualified and unfit in various ways.

It has not worked, however, with Donald Trump. This was not a failure of the primary system or the political system (Hillary Clinton’s impending nomination will be a failure of the political system) but something far more ominous. We are faced with the threat of an unstable, incoherent, ethics-free and irrational man becoming our President because of a catastrophic breakdown in the ethics of our cultural, societal and political institutions, over a long period of time. As a result, our democracy, ideals and way of life are imperiled as never before.

It didn’t have to be this way. It’s just how things broke, that’s all. The United States has sewn the seeds of its own destruction many times before and lucked out, smelling like a rose after mistakes, miscalculations and stupid actions that easily could have ended Mr. Jefferson’s experiment in tragedy and chaos. We might get lucky again, I suppose. Trump might get squished by a falling piece of space junk. Hillary Clinton might get possessed by the spirit of Julia Sand. I wouldn’t bet on it though. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Era: Thomas Jefferson and the Continental Congress of 1776

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

—-The Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson, edited, ratified and signed by him,  Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, John Hancock, Samuel Chase William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean, William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark, Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Stephen Hopkin,  William Ellery, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
Matthew Thornton.

Ethics Heroes all.

Thank you, guys.

(You can read the entire document that changed the world…undeniably for the better…here.)

“Keeping It” in Seattle: Flunking the Duty To Stand Up To Anti-Speech Bullies

Could it be time for an “Everybody Beat on Israel Day”?

Count me out. Still, there is finally an instructive example of bullies who don’t embrace radical Islam causing First Amendment timidity, and raising ethical issues too.

Seattle’s Department of Transportation sells advertising on city buses. When the “Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign” bought space to condemn Israel’s policies with ads headlined,‘Israeli War Crimes: Your Tax Dollars at Work’ featuring a picture of children next to a bomb-damaged building,” the Department was flooded with protests by Jews and Israel supporters. Most of them were stern, indignant or argumentative, but about 25 conveyed an intention to disrupt or vandalize buses,take violent measures, or suggested that bus riders would soon be at risk.” Some examples:

  • “If you want to see how tough Jews can be, then go ahead and run those despicable ads and we’ll see who has the last word on this. If you run these ads, we will work together with our Jewish friends and others to shut Metro down.”

Christmas: the Ethical Holiday

Benjamin Franklin recognized the importance of regularly focusing one’s attention on ethical conduct rather than the usual non-ethical goals, needs, desires and impulses that occupy the thoughts of even the most virtuous among us. He suggested that every morning an individual should challenge himself to do good during the day. In the 21st century psychologists call this “priming,” a form of beneficial self-brain-washing that plants the seeds of future choices.

The Christmas season operates as an effective form of mass population priming, using tradition, lore, music, poetry, ritual, literature, art and entertainment to celebrate basic ethical virtues and exemplary conduct toward other human beings. Continue reading

Perry v. Schwarzenegger: Choosing Ethics Over Morality

Predictably, Judge Walker’s decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger striking down California’s voter approved Proposition 8 has infuriated foes of gay marriage, who have condemned his opinion as judicial activism, a rejection of democratic process, and an agenda-driven farce. Walker himself is being attacked for having a conflict of interest, because he is widely believed to be gay himself. (The belief that a gay judge cannot rule objectively on the issue of gay marriage while a straight judge can is itself an expression of bias.) This is not surprising. What is surprising, at least to me, is that the only substantial argument critics of the opinion can articulate is based on the exact proposition Walker rejected in his opinion: that laws should be able to prohibit conduct based on morality and tradition alone, without quantifiable and verifiable reasons relating to the best interests of society. By insisting that a California law that would withhold a fundamental right—marriage—from a class of Americans must justify itself with reason rather than tradition, Judge Walker ruled that it is ethics, not morality, that should govern American law and justice. Continue reading

Glenn Beck vs. Teddy Roosevelt? No Contest!

Listening to Glenn Beck disparage Theodore Roosevelt is a little like listening to Ed Wood, auteur of the deathless classic, “Plan Nine From Outer Space,” condemning John Ford as an unimaginative hack.

At his uproariously received speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Beck, the libertarian talk-show host, flamboyant TV showman on Fox and current Tea Party hero effectively racked up cheap applause by pulling a quote out of Teddy’s “New Nationalism” speech and deriding it. Beck didn’t analyze and critique the speech, of course, because that would have required a discipline of scholarship and a rigor of intellect that he simply does not possess. He simply quoted this section… Continue reading

Ben Franklin’s Ethics Alarms

Why do good people do bad things? Usually it’s because they aren’t thinking about good and bad at all. They are thinking about more immediate issues, like getting through the day, keeping a job, making a child happy, paying the bills, enduring a crisis. When good people—most of us, I believe–actually focus on doing the right thing, doing good, they tend to do it. The trick is  focusing, when emotions and basic human needs are so powerful. Continue reading